Job Motivation II: Entertainment in the peril of others

30 May

First Gala Night. Unrealistic target numbers. Ignorant manager. Casual sexism. Grumpy passengers. Pasta with tomato sauce, three times a day. Defective equipment. Narcicistic coworkers. Blah, blah, shitty job, terrible pay. If you have read any number of my previous blogs, you already know that song. By now I am left with one distinctively positive aspect about my job as cruise photographer – the gift of travelling Northern Europe. That is not enough to make up for all the hardship in the current phase of my life, so the returning question of the day is once more: why do I keep bothering myself with this burden? Today you shall gain an answer that is both personal, yet also applicable to most job situations around the globe.

Fjord Town Geiranger

Northern Europe is beautiful, but the sight does not suffice to keep me aboard.

I don’t have an education as photographer, nor did I ever receive any training as a salesperson (or wanted to be one, for that matter). Thus, my position as photographer aboard the ABC RypMeOff is one of considerable novelty to me. However, I enjoy experiencing new things, and I need my job to be fulfilling and challenging. Those ideas are actually pretty universal; most members of our work force want to be mentally active labourers. All the better, if the work place is frequently spiced up with mental challenges, such as new equipment or coworkers. Without those we tend to dumb down at our job, because repetition not only makes any task easier, but also eliminates processes of critical thinking.

Every intelligent human being wants a job where he or she gets to apply one’s intellect on novel tasks, or frequent interactions with new probates. In my first ever job I flipped film slides, and digitised them in a relatively simple machine. Not only had I internalised all of the working procedures after only two months, I also was graced with an elderly coworker who shared my work space for eight hours every day. Even my lunch breaks I mostly spent with that same person, thus escalating an already tense relationship. After hearing the same stories and jokes for two months I could no longer bear the situation, and provoked a discontinuation of my contract. Intelligent people cannot handle continuous boredom in their work space. And if you are unaware of annoying or boring people in your work environment, you might actually be part of the problem. (Or you work in an awesome place, and I hate you for it.)

piano in the cruise ship atrium

Like any cruise ship the ABC RypMeOff is filled with personal strife, even if it sparkles brightly on the surface.

I consider myself above average intelligence, and you can judge that narcissistic, if you like. But I definitely need more challenge and human turmoil than the regular Joe, and cruise photography offers just that. Every day is filled with problems and argumentation. There are always passengers who are upset, and need to be calmed down. There is always the odd couple who can be convinced to take photos, if you feature creative poses, and a humorous approach. And, of course, I frequently get to work with a different studio set-up, which lets me toy around with lighting and props. Even though I don’t want to be a portrait photographer this creative freedom has become dear to me. And during the rare nights in which I get to shoot photos I feel quite confident and proud of my work.

Finally, the infrequent breaks allow me to listen to the troubles of my coworkers. While most of my male colleagues are just cranky egoists, the ladies tend to have actual problems. Mostly with the men. I don’t bask in their misery, but I enjoy listening. I particularly like to hear about Mateja’s numerous disputes with stress bombs like Henry, the 1st rank photographer who has his head so far up his own rectum that he continuously defecates on other people’s backdrop without even realising it. Or Jennifer’s episodic bitch slams, triggered by some cross remark of her coworkers, or the rant of a passenger who was in a particularly foul mood. I get to listen to everyone’s troubles, and sometimes offer a calming response.

North Cape near Honningsvag, Norway

It often helps to find people who have far deeper troubles than yourself. Not to laugh at them, but to realise how good my life is in comparison.

I like to fix things, particularly people and their problems. And there are plenty of people problems aboard the ABC RypMeOff. Not that I could actually help resolve all of them, but they do have an undeniable entertainment value. Sometimes my ship life feels like a soap opera, with the difference that I get paid far less than the pretend best friend on TV.

Our male colleagues in general, and the manager in particular, appear to be incapable of accepting the existence of contrasting opinions, which results in a plethora of social issues every day. As one of many social animals aboard I like to invade other people’s social circles, and involve myself in the many troubles that the crew and passengers enfold themselves in. That does not exactly create a work space of peace and inspiration, but it certainly keeps my mind busy, which has become a real challenge since I stopped taking this job serious. I know that cruise photography is not a career path for me, which creates a motivation vacuum for the remainder of my seven-month contract. The mental perils of my fellow humans are a welcome distraction from the daily drudgery of my job.

There you go, my advice for fulfilment in work: find stressed-out coworkers or costumers, and listen to their blues.

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